Senior International friendly
Ireland 7 (Peter Blakeney 3, Davy Carson, John Jermyn, Peter Caruth, Gareth Watkins) Czech Republic 2 (Bures, Perinka)
Using many of the panel ruled out of next week’s Olympic qualifiers by this afternoon’s final selection, Ireland put in an impressively hungry display to defeat the Czech Republic in an uncapped challenge match to start a three-game series.
There were some sweet goals, Peter Blakeney’s first of three probably the pick of them in the eighth minute, roofing a reverse from the top of the circle. A hesitant corner defence routine, possibly due to the wrong protective gear being left behind the goal, did yield two goals from two attempts for the Czech, the first of which saw Bures level with a direct flick.
The visitors were under strength from the start, resting their top stars Tomas Prochazka and Filip Neusser, and were further weakened when Ondrej Vadmuska went off before half-time.
They fell behind again when Blakeney innovated to drag-flick home from play and a sublime, behind-the-back pull from Davy Carson on the end of Jason Lynch’s cross made it 3-1. On the half-time whistle, Perinka netted a penalty stroke after another corner was not dealt with, leading to Travinik rebounding into Kenny Carroll’s body on the line.
Cookstown’s Ian Hughes made his first appearance in a senior smock in the second half but he was left with little to do bar calling as Ireland controlled the second half.
A Watkins steal on halfway was quickly transferred by Carson to Blakeney to sweep home first time. Jermyn increased the lead to 5-2 as Bell’s ball broke his way and he sweetly struck home from the edge off the inside of the left post.
The C of I man looked in decent nick in the centre of the park, apparently out-doing his personal best in recent fitness tests as he tries to get back to international match speed. Peter Caruth swooped for a close range, reverse finish before Gareth Watkins applied a neat chip to Ames’ slip pass completed the win in the 68th minute.
Ireland: D Fitzgerald, K Carroll, B Doherty, R Gormley, J Bell, J Jermyn, D Ames, P Blakeney, J Lynch, G Watkins, D Carson
Subs: C Cargo, I Hughes, S O’Donoghue, J Jackson, R Sykes, G McCabe, P Caruth